Surviving Letters of the Countess of Salisbury

Countess of Salisbury

We all know the tragic end of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury. If you are new to Tudor history I’d highly recommend reading the guest article by Alan Freer called, “The Last Plantagenet” to get yourself better acquainted with her life, and grizzly execution.

Margaret was the daughter of George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence. George was the brother of both King Edward IV and Richard III.

This letter is written by Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury to her first cousin, Arthur Plantagenet, the illegitimate son of King Edward IV Lord Lisle in Calais. It was written sometime between 1533-1538; I’m able to determine that since Arthur became Lord Lisle in 1533 and Margaret was arrested and imprisoned in 1538 – she did not write this letter from the Tower of London.

It appears to be mostly pleasantries between two cousins and some discussion about a Robert Baker that Margaret appears to know and Lord Lisle appointed him into the King’s service in Calais.

Mine own good cousin,

In my hearty manner I recommend me unto you, and to my lady your wife, being glad to hear of your good health; praying you, that where my friend Richard Baker is by your favor appointed to the king’s service in Calais, it may please you to be good lord unto him, and the rather for my sake, in all such things as you may do him favour therein; for I doubt not but that you shall find him an honest man, and meet to do the king service. And thus I pray Jesu preserve you in good health, and prosperous to His pleasure.

At Bysham, the 6th day of March.

By your loving cousin,

Margaret Salisbury

 

Bisham Abbey Manor House - WyrdLight.com / CC BY-SA 3.0
Bisham Abbey Manor House – WyrdLight.com / CC BY-SA 3.0

Quite Possibly the Only Other Surviving Letter from Margaret, Countess of Salisbury

Here is another correspondence between Margaret and her son, Reginald from July 1536 – this is the only other letter that I’m aware of that survives. The letter was a heavily damaged copy and you’ll notice the areas that were unreadable. I included his letter so you could her interaction with her son.

Reginald Pole to the Countess of Salisbury (his mother)

Most humbly desiring your ladyship’s blessing. And, Madam, I doubt [not] but your ladyship continually desiring my com[ing ho]me, and speciall[y] at this time, having firm [ho]pe that it should [in] a few days come to pass [th]at you should [see] me there presently, as the b[ea]rer hereof, my [ser]vant, did inform me to be your w[or]ds at his departing from your ladyship, tru[st]ing that he was sent for that purpose to bri[ng] me home; now that my return doth not fo[llow] according to your expectation, the more, I doubt not, greve it woll be to you, and marvel both, that I do not come.” Must put her, however, in remembrance of her old promise to God touching him from his childish years, “that ever you had given me utterly unto God. And though you had so done with all your children, yet in me you had so given all right from you and possession utterly of me that you never took any care to provide for my living nor otherwise, as you did for other, but committed all to God, to whom you had given me. This promise now, Madam, in my [Maister]es name I require of you to maintain, [the wh]iche you cannot keep nor make good if y[ou] now beginne to care for me. Whan you see [me] . . . . . . . complayne of my Maistre, [th]an were [it] tyme for you to care for me; b[ut] afore [that] tyme you do God wrong if y[ou] . . . . . . . . . wiche cannot be without a certa[yne doubt] of the provident favor of Him towa[rds me to] whom you have given me. Therefore . . . . . Madam, let not this injurie be ever found [in y]ou towards my Master and yours both, specially . . . eng this testimony of me the servant, that [I ha]d never cause in my life to make the . . . . complaint, being, in comparison, infinitely [better] provided for in all parties than I was [worthi]e or could desire, never feeling from [child]wod, syns that I knew who was my verie [Ma]stre and Lord, the least displeasure, but [that] I had a thousand weight of comfort furthwith f[ollow]eng. Wherefore, what cause I have to have s[uch] confidence of His like goodness in all that may h[app]en the time to come your ladyship may hereby s[ee]. So that if you woll enjoy in me any part of that comfort God sendeth, the readiest way is, putting all care aside of me, let my Master and me alone; I mean this, not intermit the least care of mind for me, knowing to what master you have given me; but both touching yourself and me both, commit all to His goodness, as I doubt not your ladyship will, and shall be to me the greatest comfort I can have of you.

Reply from Countess of Salisbury to her Son

Here is Margaret’s reply to the above letter from her son. It is noted that this letter appears to be a copy.

Son Reginald,” I send you God’s blessing and mine, though my trust to have comfort in you is turned to sorrow. Alas that I, for your folly, should receive from my sovereign lord “such message as I have late done by your brother.” To me as a woman, his Highness has shown such mercy and pity as I could never deserve, but that I trusted my children’s services would express my duty. And now, to see you in his Grace’s indignation,—”trust me, Reginald, there went never the death of thy father or of any child so nigh my heart.” Upon my blessing I charge thee to take another way and serve our master, as thy duty is, unless thou wilt be the confusion of thy mother. You write of a promise made by you to God,—”Son, that was to serve God and thy prince, whom if thou do not serve with all thy wit, with all thy power, I know thou can not please God. For who hath brought you up and maintained you to learning but his Highness?” Will pray God to give him grace to serve his prince truly or else to take him to his mercy.

Sources:

Letters of Royal and Illustrious Women of Great Britain, Volume 3, page 91

Letters between Reginald and Margaret: ‘Henry VIII: July 1536, 11-15’, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 11, July-December 1536, ed. James Gairdner (London, 1888), pp. 30-45. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/letters-papers-hen8/vol11/pp30-45 [accessed 19 August 2016].

For further reading from tudorsdynasty.com about Margaret, Countess of Salisbury see below:

The Last Plantagenet

3 Generations: Plantagenet Women

Margaret Pole: Short Video History

Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury

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The Life and Love of the Pretender

the-life-and-love-of-the-pretender

During the reign of King Henry VII, the “Pretender,” Perkin Warbeck claimed to be Richard, Duke of York, the second son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. At the time it was very significant for Warbeck to come forward as the Duke of York because there were still many Yorkist supporters — Henry VII had only reigned for a short time and some noblemen and subjects alike had hoped for a York resurrection. If he were indeed the son of the late King Edward IV the throne of England should, in many people’s eyes, be his for the taking – regardless of the fact that Henry Tudor won the crown in battle.

When Edward IV died in 1483, his eldest son Edward, Prince of Wales became Edward V. Edward was only a child of twelve at the time and could not rule England outright. His uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester was the only surviving brother of the late King and was named Lord Protector of the realm until Edward came of age.

Unfortunately this would not be enough for Richard. He had placed both Edward V and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York in the Tower. Richard, Duke of Gloucester claimed it was in preparation of the coronation of Edward V, but the boys would never leave the Tower. That we know of.

The Duke of Gloucester declared the marriage of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville invalid and therefore their children illegitimate – this meant that Richard, Duke of Gloucester was now the rightful heir to the throne. He became King Richard III (1483-1485) and the boys were never seen or heard from again.

Flash forward to 1490 at the court in Burgundy — Perkin Warbeck claimed to be Richard, Duke of York.  At court he was recognized by Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy. Margaret was the sister of the late Edward IV and Richard III. She would surely recognize her nephew, right? That question is one that we will never truly know the answer to.

Hailed as the rightful heir to the throne of England, Richard (aka Warbeck) set out to reclaim his father’s throne. But England already had a king: the first of the Tudors, Henry VII. Henry proclaimed the young man an imposter and nicknamed him “Perkin Warbeck”, but he behaved—not as if the young man was an upstart—but as if he faced the clash of another legitimate claimant. –On the Tudor Trail

A Tale of True Adventure: The Boy Who Pretended He Was King. Original artwork from Look and Learn no. 180 (26 June 1965).
A Tale of True Adventure: The Boy Who Pretended He Was King. Original artwork from Look and Learn no. 180 (26 June 1965).

Warbeck wrote to Isabella of Castile (mother to Katherine of Aragon) in 1493:

“I myself, then nearly nine years of age, was also delivered to a certain Lord to be killed, [but] it pleased Divine Clemency, that lord, having compassion on my innocence, preserved me alive in safety: first, however, causing me to swear on the holy sacrament that to no one should I disclose my name, origin, or family, until a certain number of years had passed. He then sent me therefore abroad, with two persons, who should watch over and take charge of me;  and thus I, an orphan, bereaved of my royal father and brother, an exile from my kingdom, and deprived of my country, inheritance and fortune, a fugitive in the midst of extreme perils, led my miserable life, in fear, and weeping, and grief, and for the space of nearly eight years lay hid…scarcely had I emerged from childhood alone and without means, I remained for a time in the kingdom of Portugal, and thence sailed to Ireland, where being recognised by illustrious lords, the earl of Desmond and Kildare, my cousins, as also by other noblemen of the island, I was received with great joy and honour. -Richard” - British Library MS Egerton 616), as quoted by I. Arthurson in The Perkin Warbeck Conspiracy, P. 49-50

Soon Warbeck would gain support from others including King James IV of Scotland. The Scottish King was not exactly on the friendliest of terms with the English King (Henry VII) and would take this opportunity in an attempt to dethrone him and have the presumptive English King (Warbeck) as an ally. In order for James IV to seal the friendship and alliance with Warbeck he betrothed his cousin Lady Katherine Gordon to the young man.

In December 1495, Perkin Warbeck wrote this letter to Lady Katherine Gordon:

scottish womanMost noble lady, it is not without reason that all turn their eyes to you; that all admire, love, and obey you. For they see your two-fold virtues by which you are so much distinguished above all other mortals. Whilst, on the one hand, they admire your riches and immutable prosperity, which secure to you the nobility of your lineage and the loftiness of your rank, they are, on the other hand, struck by your rather divine than human beauty, and believe that you are not born in our days, but descended from Heaven.

All look at your face, so bright and serene that it gives splendour to the cloudy sky ; all look at your eyes as brilliant as stars, which make all pain to be forgotten, and turn despair into delight ; all look at your neck, which outshines pearls ; all look at your fine forehead, your purple light of youth, your fair hair ; in one word, at the splendid perfection of your person ;—and looking at, they cannot choose but admire you ; admiring, they cannot choose but love you ; loving, they cannot choose but obey you.

I shall, perhaps, be the happiest of all your admirers, and the happiest man on earth, since I have reason to hope you will think me worthy of your love. If I represent to my mind all your perfections, I am not only compelled to love, to adore, and to worship you, but love makes me your slave. Whether waking or sleeping, I cannot find rest or happiness except in your affection. All my hopes rest in you, and in you alone.
Most noble lady, my soul, look mercifully down upon me your slave, who has ever been devoted to you from the first hour he saw you. Love is not an earthly thing, it is heaven born. Do not think it below yourself to obey love’s dictates. Not only kings, but also gods and goddesses have bent their necks beneath its yoke.

I beseech you, most noble lady, to accept for ever one who in all things will cheerfully do your will as long as his days shall last. Farewell, my soul and my consolation. You, the brightest ornament of Scotland, farewell, farewell. -‘Spain: December 1495’, in Calendar of State Papers, Spain, Volume 1, 1485-1509, ed. G A Bergenroth (London, 1862), pp. 72-79

In 1497 Warbeck traveled again with two or three small vessels – he was accompanied by his wife, Katherine. After departing Scotland Warbeck crossed to Ireland. When he arrived he found no allies and was being pursued by the Earl of Kildare. In a country that had supported the House of York Warbeck was sadly not welcomed, so he sailed to Devon. On 7 September, he was joined by a crowd of people who had recently revolted against excessive taxation. He continued to Exeter, but was unable to master the town. As Henry VII’s troops approached Warbeck deserted his followers and ran for refuge to the sanctuary of Beaulieu in Hampshire where he surrendered.

Henry VII receives Lady Katherine Gordon
Henry VII receives Lady Katherine Gordon

After Warbeck’s capture his wife Katherine was treated kindly and placed in the household of Queen Elizabeth of York – the queen of Henry VII. Who, if Warbeck was indeed the Duke of York, was her sister-in-law. I often wonder what Elizabeth of York thought of all of this.

“Henry allowed Warbeck to remain at court where he could be watched. However, he foolishly tried to run away which seemed to emphasise his treachery. Warbeck was put in the stocks, humiliated and sent to the Tower. Clearly after being generous to the pretender, Henry’s patience had run out. In 1499, Warbeck was charged with trying to escape for a second time, found guilty and hanged on November 23rd 1499″.– The History Learning Site

hanging of perkin warbeck
The hanging of Perkin Warbeck, the “Pretender”

The ultimate fate of Perkin Warbeck came about because of his own choice to try to escape. I often wonder what would have happened to him if he had not done so. I tend to romanticize things, and in doing so I honestly believe that Warbeck was indeed Richard, Duke of York. I like to believe that he was who he said he was. That he was sent away from court (and replaced with a local boy) by his mother Elizabeth Woodville so that she could make sure at least one of her sons were safe. We can all understand why Elizabeth wouldn’t trust Richard III after he claimed her marriage to his brother was invalid – oh, and the part where he had her son Sir Richard Grey and brother Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers executed on 25 June 1483.

It’s possible that we may never know who Perkin Warbeck truly was, and until then we can only speculate. Were the skeletal remains of the two young boys found in the Tower of London indeed the Princes in the Tower? Was Perkin Warbeck really Richard, Duke of York? Did Elizabeth of York recognize her younger brother, and was she unable to do everything in her power to save him from certain death?

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Queens: The Three Elizabeths

From 1461 to 1603 there were three Elizabeths with the title of Queen – granted two were Queen consorts and one was Queen regnant, but regardless, for the sake of this post they were all queens.

  • Queen Elizabeth Woodville (c. 1437 – 1492) – the consort of King Edward IV
  • Queen Elizabeth of York (1466 – 1503) – the consort of King Henry VII
  • Queen Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603) – Queen regnant of England
Elizabeth Woodville, Elizabeth of York and Elizabeth I



The first Elizabeth, Elizabeth Woodville, was a commoner who married King Edward IV in secret and caused an uproar at English court. Many, including the “Kingmaker” saw the King’s choice to marry the widowed Woodville as unacceptable. The country was in the midst of the War of the Roses and even this marriage could not stop others for vying for the throne of England. Elizabeth Woodville was a strong woman in her own right. It appears her main objective was to ensure her children received what was rightfully theirs in the end. Unfortunately, she lost two sons in the Tower after her brother-in-law, Richard III deemed them illegitimate. The two princes were never seen again. Elizabeth was instrumental in negotiating the marriage between her daughter Elizabeth and Henry Tudor – an act that would end the War of the Roses.

The second Elizabeth, Elizabeth of York, was the eldest child of Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV – she became Queen consort when she married King Henry VII a couple of years after the Battle of Bosworth. Their marriage inevitably ended the Wars of the Roses by joining together the houses of Lancaster and York.

The third Elizabeth, Elizabeth Tudor, was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. She became Queen Elizabeth in her own right in 1558. Elizabeth was declared illegitimate by her father when she was just a child but was eventually named as a successor after her brother (Edward VI) and older sister (Mary I). Neither sibling had children. The hand of fate made it that the daughter of Anne Boleyn became Queen Regnant of England. Anne Boleyn would have been proud.

A quick family tree refresher for you:

Edward IV & Elizabeth Woodville

? Daughter: Elizabeth of York

Edward IV, Elizabeth Woodville and Elizabeth of York

Henry VII & Elizabeth of York 

? Son: Henry VIII

Henry VII, Elizabeth of York and Henry VIII

Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn

? Daughter: Queen Elizabeth I

Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I
  • Elizabeth Woodville gave birth to Elizabeth of York, who was also the daughter of Edward IV.
  • Elizabeth of York gave birth to Henry VIII, who was also the son of Henry VII.
  • Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth (future Elizabeth I).
  • Queen Elizabeth I was the granddaughter of Elizabeth of York, and great-granddaughter of Elizabeth Woodville.

What would Elizabeth Woodville have thought of her great-granddaughter’s reign? Would she be proud of Elizabeth or disappointed in her for not having any children and ending the Tudor line? Both Elizabeth Woodville and her daughter Elizabeth of York were very fertile woman – having many children.

During the reign of Edward IV, Elizabeth Woodville was referred to as a woman who wanted power and would do whatever it took to bring titles to her family and to ensure her children were offered every opportunity that a royal prince or princess were entitled to.

Elizabeth of York on the other-hand, is only referred to in loving tones. Something her mother never truly experienced. Elizabeth does not appear to be a vocal counterpart of her husband (the King) unlike her mother. Would she have been proud of her granddaughter?

Elizabeth I was very similar to her great-grandmother, Elizabeth Woodville – she was strong, bull-headed and confident in her title. She knew what she wanted and for the most part got it….save Dudley. That wasn’t meant to be.

What do you think?

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Elizabeth Tudor: Lost English Princess

Part 6: Elizabeth Tudor: Lost English Princess, 4th child and 2nd daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. 

Princess Elizabeth Tudor
Princess Elizabeth Tudor

“2 July 1492 – birth of Elizabeth Tudor, Princess of England and daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, at Sheen Palace. The fourth child and second daughter, Elizabeth’s short life is poorly documented and little is known of this tragic princess. As a younger sister to Arthur, Margaret and the future Henry VIII, it is likely she spent the majority of her life with Prince Henry and Princess Margaret at the royal nursery in Eltham Palace where sibling bonds would have been nurtured. As a royal daughter her value in diplomacy was tested when a marriage alliance was proposed between her and Prince Francis of France, who later became Francis I, her brother’s great rival. Elizabeth died aged only 3 years old, shortly before the birth of her younger sister Mary. The reactions of her parents are not recorded but suffice to say they must have been distraught at the death of a child who had been an integral part of the family over the previous few years. She was buried in the Chapel of St Edward the Confessor at Westminster Abbey in a small tomb after a comparitively lavish funeral where no expense was spared by her father. She would later be joined by her siblings Edmund and Katherine after their respective deaths.” – From The Henry Tudor Society via FB



The Redemption of Elizabeth of York

Part 1: Elizabeth of York, mother of Arthur, Margaret, Henry, Elizabeth, Mary, Edmund & Katherine Tudor

ElizabethWoodville (2)
Elizabeth Woodville
Maragaret Beaufort
Maragaret Beaufort

In 1485 Henry Tudor took the throne of England from Richard III on the battlefield — with this win he successfully ended the Wars of the Roses.

Elizabeth Woodville, the mother of Elizabeth of York, and Henry Tudor’s mother, Margaret Beaufort, had made an arrangement for Elizabeth of York to wed Henry if he won at the Battle of Bosworth against Elizabeth’s uncle Richard.

As history has recorded, the army of Henry Tudor was successful and thus Elizabeth of York was betrothed to Henry VII.

During the reign of her uncle, Elizabeth was declared illegitimate — when once she had been a prized princess, Richard branded her an outcast and she became less desired for a royal marriage. What Margaret Beaufort and her son Henry were offering was legitimacy — a way to end the wars that had ravaged both of their families for decades.

Henry Tudor was crowned King of England but did not immediately wed the young Elizabeth. Some historians have said that he intentionally waited so he could assert his power as a Tudor and not have it diminished by the daughter of a York. Some believed that Elizabeth deserved the crown over Henry since she was the eldest daughter of Edward IV and she had no surviving brothers (The Princes in the Tower). In addition, Henry and Elizabeth were third cousins — by joining in marriage they together strengthened their combined claims to the throne.

On 18 January 1486, about five months after the Battle of Bosworth, the couple were married. By 20 September 1486, Elizabeth gave birth to their first child, a son — Arthur. In November 1487, she was finally crowned queen consort.

Henry VII
Henry VII
Arthur Tudor, c. 1501 - Public Domain
Arthur Tudor
Elizabeth of York
Elizabeth of York

 

 

 

 

 

You just read Part 1 of the Series – Catch up here:

Part 2: Arthur: The Man Who Would Be King

Part 3: The Thistle and the Rose: English Princess, Scottish Queen

Part 4: The Legacy of Henry VIII

Part 5: Mary Tudor: English Princess, French Queen

Part 6: Elizabeth Tudor: Lost English Princess

The Tower of London – the Most Haunted Castle in England

The Tower of London could be called the most haunted place in London as it has seen hundred of executions. Some justified, some not.

Many of the prisoners who entered the Tower only left to go to their execution. Most executions were public events and were well attended. Seems a little morbid now. Traitors could expect to be hung, drawn and quartered – the most inhumane of executions – the prisoner was hung and cut down still alive, their heart and entrails removed and burnt – then their body was divided into four parts and displayed publicly to warn others of what happens when you commit treason.

Yet, when we think of the Tower and executions, the most well-known execution is by beheading…with an axe. This was generally reserved for more important and distinguished prisoners. It was considered a more merciful death.

Public executions took place on Tower Hill, however more important figures like Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard and Jane Grey were executed within the Tower in a more private execution. This was done to avoid public attention and outcries for mercy. 

 

The following people were imprisoned in the Tower of London and executed (or vanished):

George Plantagenet
George Plantagenet
702px-King_Edward_V_from_NPG
Edward V
Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick
Edward Plantagenet
Perkin Warbeck
Perkin Warbeck
1 Hans Eworth (Dutch artist, c.1525-a 1578) An Unknown Lady, called Anne Ayscough or Askew, Mrs Thomas Kyme (1521-1546) National Trust Collections Tatton Park, Cheshire 1560
Anne Askew
Thomas More
Thomas More
Anne Boleyn
Anne Boleyn
Jane Boleyn
Jane Boleyn
Katherine Howard
Katherine Howard
Thomas Cromwell
Thomas Cromwell
Jane Grey
Jane Grey
Margaret Pole
Margaret Pole

George, Duke of Clarence – Arrested for plotting against his brother Edward IV, he was found guilty of treason and executed in secret at Bowyer Tower in 1477. Rumors spread that he had been drown in a butt of malmsey.

Edward V – Son of Edward IV, only 12 years old when he was brought to the Tower for his coronation. His uncle, Duke of Gloucester declared he and his brother illegitimate and crowned himself Richard III. The young princes vanished at the Tower and were never seen alive again. Last seen at the Bloody Tower.

Richard, Duke of York - Brother to Edward V, one of the Princes in the Tower. Vanished from the Tower along with his brother, never to be seen again.

The story of the little princes is still to this day a heartbreaking story that brings tears to ones eyes. They are “among the most poignant ghosts” in the Tower. Their disappearance in 1483 is very suspicious of wrong doing, but by whom? The ghost of the twelve-year-old, King Edward V, and his nine-year old brother, Richard, Duke of York, can been seen in the Bloody Tower, they are still wearing the white night shirts they had on the night they disappeared. They stand silently, hand in hand, before fading back into the stones of the Bloody Tower. – Source

Edward Plantagenet, Earl of Warwick - On 28 November 1499, Edward Plantagenet, earl of Warwick, was executed by beheading on Tower Hill for treason. The son of George, Duke of Clarence, and the nephew of both Edward IV and Richard III.

Perkin Warbeck - On November 23rd, 1499, Perkin Warbeck was drawn on a hurdle from the Tower to Tyburn to be hanged. He died, not for his imitation of a Yorkist prince, but because of a plot to overthrow Henry VII. A plot which also cost the life of the last Plantagenet, Edward, Earl of Warwick.

Anne Askew – Persecuted for her religious beliefs under Henry VIII’s rule, Anne was sent to the Tower and tortured on the rack. Women had never been racked before Anne. She refused to give up her faith and was burned at the stake at Cradle Tower as a heretic.

Thomas More – Refused to accept his friend, Henry VIII as the head of the Church of England. He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered, but the King commuted his sentence to execution by beheading. The execution took place on 6 July 1535. When he came to the scaffold, he is widely quoted as saying (to the officials): “I pray you, I pray you, Mr Lieutenant, see me safe up and for my coming down, I can shift for myself”; while on the scaffold he declared that he died “the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”

Anne Boleyn - The second wife of King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn was arrested and accused of adultery and incest by a king anxious to remarry and produce an heir. On 19 May 1536 she was beheaded by sword within the walls of the Tower.

The most persistent ghost in the Tower of London is the ghost of Queen Anne Boleyn, and rightly so. Witnesses describe a female figure identified only by her dress. Queen Anne appears near the Queen’s House, close to the site where her execution was carried out. She can be seen leading a ghostly procession of Lords and Ladies down the aisle of the Chapel Royal of St. Peter and Vincula. She floats down the aisle to her final resting place. Queen Anne is buried under the Chapel’s altar. Her headless body has also been seen walking the corridors of the Tower.Source

George Boleyn - the brother of Queen Anne Boleyn who had been executed on the trumped-up charge of incest with his sister.

Jane Boleyn – Wife of George Boleyn, the brother of Queen Anne Boleyn. Her marriage to George Boleyn was an arranged and a very unhappy one. She was instrumental in the arrest of her sister-in-law, Anne and her husband George. Jane provided damning evidence against them to Thomas Cromwell. She later became a Lady of the Privy Chamber to Katherine Howard. Jane Rochford encouraged the young queen in her affair with Thomas Culpeper with whom she helped organize secret meetings. Her part as a go-between was discovered and Jane Rochford was arrested and taken to the Tower of London. She was interrogated and lost her sanity. A new law which allowed the execution of the insane was passed in order to have her condemned to death. She confessed before her death, “God has permitted me to suffer this shameful doom as punishment for having contributed to my husband’s death. I falsely accused him of loving in an incestuous manner, his sister, Queen Anne Boleyn. For this I deserve to die.” She was executed immediately after Katherine Howard.

Katherine Howard – The fifth wife of King Henry VIII and the cousin of Anne Boleyn. Katherine was arrested at Hampton Court for adultery and tried in vain to reach the King. She was dragged screaming back to her apartments. Her lovers were executed and she passed their gruesome, impaled heads on London Bridge on her way to Traitor’s gate, the entry to the Tower of London. Katherine asked William Kingston for a block so that she could practice her execution. Legend has it that her last words were: “I die a queen, but would rather die the wife of Culpeper.”

Katherine Howard escaped from her room in the Tower. “She ran down the hallway screaming for help and mercy. She was caught and returned to her room.” The next day she was beheaded. Her ghost has been seen sill running down the hallway screaming for help.Source

Thomas Cromwell - Cromwell was arrested on 10 June 1540 and imprisoned in the Tower. He was imprisoned for not pleasing the king – to be so blunt. The king deferred the execution until his marriage to Anne of Cleves could be annulled. Hoping for clemency, Cromwell wrote in support of the annulment, in his last personal address to the King. He ended it with the plea “Most gracious Prince, I cry for mercy, mercy, mercy.” Mercy did not come and Cromwell was condemned to death without trial and beheaded on Tower Hill on 28 July 1540, the day of the King’s marriage to Catherine Howard.

Jane Grey - Queen for just nine days, Lady Jane Grey was found guilty of high treason and sent to the Tower. On 12 February 1554 she watched her husband go to his death before she too was beheaded on Tower Green, aged 16.

 Lady Jane watched as her husband was taken to Tower Hill where he was beheaded. She saw his body being carried back to the chapel, after which she was taken to Tower Green where she was beheaded. Lady Jane Grey’s ghost was last seen by two Guardsmen on February 12, 1957, the 403rd anniversary of her execution. She was described as a “white shape forming itself on the battlements”. Her husband, Guildford Dudley, has been seen in Beauchamp Tower weeping.Source

Margaret Pole - The Countess of Salisbury was the last direct descendant of the Plantagenet line – her father was George, Duke of Clarence who was drowned for treason in 1477 and her brother Edward, Earl of Warwick was beheaded in 1499. She was arrested two years before her execution and treated poorly – neglected as a prisoner in the Tower of London. She was not given a trial. She was small, frail and ill. But she was a proud noble. She was dragged to the block, but refused to lay her head on the block. She was forced down and struggled. The inexperienced executioner made a gash in her shoulder rather than her neck. She leapt from the block and was chased by the executioner, with his axe. She was struck eleven times before she died. There were 150 witnesses to her execution. She was the oldest woman executed at 68 years of age.

The most grisly execution and thus haunting is that of the old Countess of Salisbury, the last of the Plantagenets.  Her ghost has been seen reliving this truly gruesome act. Also the shadow of a great axe has been seen falling across the scene of her murder.Source

Other notable executions:

  • John Fisher Bishop of Rochester (1534)
  • Implicated with Anne Boleyn (1536)
    • Mark Smeaton
    • Sir Henry Norris
    • Sir Francis Weston
    • William Brereton
  • Implicated with Catherine Howard (1542)
    • Thomas Culpepper
    • Henry Mannox
    • Francis Dereham
  • Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1546)
  • Thomas, Duke of Norfolk (1546)
  • Thomas Seymour, High Admiral of England (1549)
  • Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector (1552)
  • Guildford Dudley – husband of Lady Jane Grey (1554)